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Driven from the light: when nature reflects the glory of God.

It is April in the Cariboo District of British Columbia. Aurora borealis season. The coming of the spring show of Northern Lights is something I look forward to with almost as much enthusiasm as the advent of fishing season. Ministry, at least the one I am blessed with, often keeps me up at nights. One of the fringe benefits of my workinduced nocturnalism is an opportunity to imbibe the unadulterated Blue Northerns. Last night was a perfect example.

We exited the ranch house after worship about 10 p.m. Linda packed Chelsea into the front of the pick-up as I stuck the guitar and a box of church paraphernalia into the canopy and slammed the door. I worked at stuffing my girth behind the wheel of the truck and screwing myself down to the seat with the seat-belt.

"Looks like another journey to the accompaniment of the Northern Lights rather than the radio," I grumbled. "I don't mind them shining, but why do they have to render our radio impotent?" I grunted as I adjusted the seat-belt.

"You can get by without your usual four hours of Larry King on that stupid all-night American radio station," Linda replied. "It normally barely comes in anyway. How you can listen to that drivel distorted by all the hissing and static I'll never know. I guess I won't be needing these tonight." Linda poked a pair of ear-plugs back into her purse and slouched into the seat as she spoke.

Both Chelsea and Linda were asleep about two hours later when I first noticed things were not normal in the heavens. Rather than the yellows and blues of most northern light displays, the sky was slashed with streaks of blood-red. At first, the red shared the night sky with the yellow and blue, dancing erotically with them. Then, for no apparent reason, red took over the whole sky.

I was straining to look but I had a problem. The lights were in the northern sky and I was driving due south. I kept trying to look over my shoulder at what was turning out to be an unusual performance of the Blue Northerns changing their colour. However, no matter how much I worked at stealing a glance over my left shoulder or peering nearsightedly through the rearview mirrors, I could not get a satisfactory view.

Eventually, when Linda awoke for one of her back-seat driver's night checks, I drew her attention to what was taking place behind us in the heavens. She looked and gasped. Then, she started climbing around the cab of the pick-up, peering out every window that had a view to the rear and north. "Wow!" she exclaimed. "You really ought to stop the truck and get out so you can have a good look."

We were still a good couple of hours from home. I was tired and looking forward to stuffing myself under a down comforter for a few hours of unconsciousness. Besides, I had a full day of work planned for tomorrow. So I merely grunted and kept on driving, stealing frustrated glances over my shoulder. The Northern Lights continued to get more dazzling with each passing kilometre; but I was too driven to stop and drink in the sight directly, too driven to face the amazing lights of the Easter sky.

A couple of hours or more of driving, and we finally droned to a halt before our home on the shores of Lac La Hache. It was 2:15 a.m. Linda lovingly lugged our sleeping little girl up the steps of the house. I debated with myself: down comforter or climb the hill? Finally, I hiked to the top of the hill behind our place where I had a clear view of the night sky. The display of red Northern Lights had subsided considerably but they were still incredible. I stood there, amazed.

Eventually, I made it to bed. But I couldn't sleep. It was Easter. Somehow, my experience with the Red Northerns unnerved me. Why had I been so driven I would not stop the truck and face the Easter sky when it was at its most spectacular? What is it about being driven that causes one to miss the depth of heaven's light? And what is it about being driven that renders one satisfied with furtive over-the-shoulder glances at the reflection of the glory of Easter's light, the Risen Christ.

"O Risen One, grant me the grace to climb Easter's hill, face your glory directly and stand there, AMAZED."

David Webber is a minister of the Cariboo Presbyterian Church, a house church ministry in the Cariboo District of British Columbia.
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Author:Webber, David
Publication:Presbyterian Record
Date:Apr 1, 1998
Words:778
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